|Servant leadership is a management style that focuses on people, work, and community spirit, with a deep understanding of identity, vision, and environment. In the most basic sense, a servant leader is one who leads by serving his or her community. Houston has been known by many monikers since its founding in 1836, but one of the most profound characteristics of this energetic, diverse and positive city is its open, giving heart.
Larry Payne, known in Houston as a champion of social justice, has dedicated his life’s work to his community. As the host of “Dialogue Houston,” a weekly TV show, and “Interchange,” a weekly Pacifica radio show, he explores ways in which we can create sustainable leadership, personal transformation and authentic involvement for individuals and organizations. Now he introduces a collection of essays on servant leadership by men and women across the broad spectrum of Houston’s sectors.
The Heart of Houston includes an introduction by Dr. Stephen L. Klineberg, Rice University Sociology Professor and Co-Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research about the ways Houston exemplifies this philosophy. Twenty essays come from every sector: business, commerce, education, medicine—and many more. They include religious leaders like Rabbi Samuel Karff, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel and faculty member at The McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Medical School; civic and literacy champions like former first lady Andrea White; and other Houstonians whose impact emanates from their service to others. Leading by example, they have helped Houston preserve a strong sense of community, philanthropy and positive energy as it has grown from a small Southern town to a thriving, international metropolis. They exemplify the idea that the world is not about “I” or “you” but the togetherness of we.
LAURENCE “Larry” PAYNE has more than thirty years of experience in public service, education and not-for-profit leadership. He has served as President and CEO of Houston Habitat for Humanity and as Chairman of the Education Foundation of Harris County. Payne has held positions in city, state and congressional government, including stints as District Director for congressmen Mickey Leland and Chris Bell, Deputy City Controller under former Houston Controller George Grenias, and Director of Houston City Council’s agenda under former Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire. He has received the Knights of St. Peter Claver Justice award—a national honor—for outstanding community service.